Staci D. Kaliner discusses the legal profession’s embrace of Microsoft’s technology stack in the Law360 article, “What's Behind Microsoft's Prominence At Law Firms.”

It's impossible to discuss the current state of legal technology without mentioning Microsoft.

From Outlook to SharePoint and OneDrive to OneNote, the technology powerhouse has become ubiquitous in law firm operations.  Nearly half of law firms use Office 365, Microsoft's suite of applications, as a cloud technology provider, according to the American Bar Association's annual technology survey in 2021.  That includes 64% of firms with 10 to 49 attorneys and 41% of firms with more than 100 attorneys.

Redgrave LLP, which specializes in information law, has embraced Microsoft tools since the firm opened in 2010, according to Managing Director Staci Kaliner.  Some of Redgrave's current tools are Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, collaborative platform SharePoint and file hosting service OneDrive. The firm also uses Microsoft's data governance and e-discovery tool, Purview.

"If I were to speculate, I would say that [Microsoft tools are] more readily available and cost-effective from a laptop perspective versus maybe some other operating systems and brands out there," said Kaliner, who was not involved in selecting these tools. "And, at the time, I think it was more enterprise business-focused than some of the alternatives."

From the laptop perspective, Kaliner said Microsoft Windows tends to be used more readily than Apple Inc.'s Macintosh; it can be easier to consistently configure to distribute to all employees; and Microsoft products are usually less expensive than Mac products.

Meanwhile the use of communications platform Microsoft Teams has more than doubled in recent years, surging from 18% of firms surveyed in 2020 to 41% in 2021, according to the ABA.

Kaliner said that Redgrave adopted Teams during the coronavirus pandemic to help with collaboration between remote attorneys and staff.

Among competing videoconferencing applications, Kaliner said that Teams is good from a security perspective, and adoption may be simpler if a firm is already using other Microsoft tools.

"That Microsoft platform has been something that we have had from the beginning," Kaliner said. "It makes perfect sense to continue the adoption that Microsoft offers in the market and to move to another piece of the Office 365 platform, which is Teams."

Indeed, the user adoption of Teams has varied at Redgrave, according to Kaliner, with some attorneys using the platform more than others.

"One of the barriers to entry in using Teams for collaboration is that it's another source of something you have to look at," Kaliner said.

Kaliner advises that firms plan out their Teams implementation by piloting a small trial with some staff members to determine true use cases before developing the processes and policies that come with a larger rollout.

How Far Microsoft Might Go

Microsoft's expansion among law firms has a few observers wondering if the company may corner the legal market for productivity tools. The company did not respond to a request for comment on its plans.

"I don't think they're trying to take over the legal profession," Kaliner said. "I think like any other platform or provider out there, the tools are there to enable the business and create efficiencies in how you deliver your work."

Read the full Law360 article here.